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ESPN projects the Steelers to have the toughest schedule in 2021 based on current rosters

Updated: May 13, 2021

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

We already knew that the Steelers had the toughest schedule in 2021 based on their opponents' combined record of 155-115-2 (.574) in 2020, but they also have the toughest schedule in 2021 based on current rosters, according to Mike Clay of ESPN. Clay's projections include the draft picks that teams made last week.

By winning the AFC North in 2020, the Steelers will play a first-place schedule in 2021, and they'll have tough road games at Kansas City, Buffalo and Green Bay. Their schedule includes 10 games against 2020 playoff teams, counting the Browns and Ravens twice.

The NFL owners formally approved the 17-game regular-season schedule at the virtual owners meetings in late March. The 17-game schedule will begin this year, ending the 16-game schedule platform that began in 1978.

With the expanding 17-game schedule, each team would play an extra interconference matchup -- AFC vs. NFC -- based on divisional standings from the preceding season and on a rotating divisional basis. All the AFC teams will be home in 2021 for the extra interconference game and then the NFC teams will be home in 2022.

With the league adding an extra regular-season game, teams will now have just three preseason games, although the Steelers will have four in 2021 due to playing the Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game. The Steelers will host nine regular-season games and one preseason game in 2021.

The Steelers will host the Seahawks at Heinz Field in 2021 as their additional opponent. The Steelers finished the regular season 12-4 last year, likewise did Seattle, and they both won their respective divisions. The rest of the AFC North teams will face the NFC West as well.

The Steelers will play the Ravens, Browns, Bengals, Broncos, Bears, Lions, Raiders, Titans and Seahawks at home in 2021. On the road, they will play the Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Chiefs, Packers, Vikings, Chargers and Bills.

The NFL 2021 schedule will be released on Wednesday, May 12 at 8 p.m. ET.

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